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When It Comes to Well-Being, Inspiration Matters

Think of someone you admire. It does not have to be someone famous, but it could be. Maybe it’s a mentor or a close family member or friend. It could also be a colleague or neighbor.

Picture the person you admire in front of you. Give yourself a few moments to think about their qualities. 

Why are you drawn to them? What do you respect most about them? Is there something that they are doing that you admire? Are they doing something that you wish you could do or have in your life?

Now think of one thing you can do today that would be in line with that quality you admire.

This exercise comes from psychologist Janet Ng, PhD, of Samaritan Weight Management Institute. Dr. Ng knows that people are often inspired by someone or something.

Without inspiration, it can be hard to maintain healthy lifestyle habits like eating more vegetables, getting 30 minutes of exercise or taking insulin or other prescribed medications. That’s why Dr. Ng and other caregivers at Samaritan encourage their patients to consider how inspiration plays out in their lives.

“Thinking about what is important to us in life, the bigger picture, can inspire us to make tough changes and to stick with them and to focus on something greater than the day-to-day worries,” Dr. Ng. said. “It makes our days and actions more purposeful and allows us to create a life that we find fulfilling and meaningful.”

A series of studies about the impact of inspiration on our well-being shows just how powerful it can be. When we’re inspired, we feel more positive, we’re more effective and productive, we have a greater sense of purpose and more gratitude in life. That’s because inspiration relates to the future more than to the present.

Researchers Todd Trash and Andrew Elliott think of inspiration as a trait defined by characteristics. They developed a scale to measure the frequency of how often people experience inspiration. Those who score higher on the inspiration scale are more open to new experiences and are driven to learn new things. The researchers also found linkages between inspiration traits and people who view themselves as being creative.

But you don’t need to be an artist or philosopher to be inspired.

Most of the people Dr. Ng counsels talk about wanting to be healthier, to be there for their kids, to be able to walk up a flight of stairs.

“I keep asking, ‘Why do you want to be healthier?’” she said. “I keep asking until they get at the big things that are meaningful to them – the values that we really care about.”

Need help finding inspiration to improve your well-being? Samaritan offers behavioral health care at many of its medical clinics, or by referral. To learn more, talk with your primary care provider.